Pillars of Lodi
Saturday, February 9th, 2013
15:35 Local 23:35 UTC
Lodi, CA //
Lodi has such a dinky airport and runway that it made me wonder at least more than once if I should have done a soft field landing and takeoff for the patchy asphalt.
If you look closely before my touchdown, you can see an aircraft carrying skydivers depart from the crossing runway in the opposite direction…which also made me second guess which direction I should be landing for a headwind.
My instructor, Sergey, took one look at the bright orange wind sock on the field and said I was SOL in finding out. It was flapping in every direction.
And it was tattered.
Again, I’m scribbling the word “dinky” on my charts next to Lodi.
markked asked: Hey Kevin! Awesome blog bro. Fellow private pilot here in SoCal (San Gabriel area) lookin that you fly out of El Monte, any recommendations between LAFC or SoCal Flying Club out of there? Lookin to get my IFR rating really soon. Thanks for sharing man! - Mark
Aw crap! I just remembered this message. Sorry about that.
I haven’t been to SoCal Flying Club so I can’t speak for it but I’ve been a long time customer of LAFC so I’ll give you the lowdown of my experience:
The people and instructors there are great and the aircraft relatively new and well maintained. Steve, the owner of LAFC, has never disappointed me as a student, customer, and friend. All the instructors there are solid too. LAFC itself is a good place to do your training and the people there will often go the extra mile for you.
Doing your IFR in the Diamond Stars they have will be a blast. LAFC has two—one with steam gauges and the other with G1000. The rates are pretty good for the new technologically advanced aircraft—oh and did I mention that they’re wet? No club membership fee required either. And you can save by doing block rates of 1000 too. They also have simulators upstairs which I imagine will help cut costs.
Good luck and have fun!
Saturday, November 24th, 2012
16:12 Local 00:12 UTC
3,500 Feet over Santa Monica, California
The light sport aircraft which I affectionately call “Peanut” is finally back from the repair shop at North Las Vegas! A year ago, someone had put it through a less-than-graceful landing, which clipped Peanut’s wings for about a year…a new engine, a new prop, and probably countless other new things. It came back with everything but wheel fairings and the ballistic parachute system. It must’ve lost those to the poker tables during its escape to Sin City.
The main spars supporting the wings are still weakened so we can only fill Peanut up to about 10 gallons of rocket fuel in each wing. Peanut burns about 5.1 gallons of rocket fuel an hour and normally holds 35 gallons.
I called for a fuel up…2 gallons for each wing, please. Yes, 2 gallons…The wide grin on the fuel truck guy’s face wouldn’t disappear.
Peanut can carry a pilot and a passenger. A brave friend decided to join the SoCal skies with me! Gotta put my best foot forward. I decided on a sky tour of the LA Basin.
We launched from El Monte Airport and followed the 10 Freeway west. Strafing between downtown LA and the Dodger Stadium at 2,000 feet, we pointed towards the warm beaches and the Pacific expanse. Griffith Park, the Hollywood sign, and UCLA were off the right wing.
The complexity of LA’s airspace made me climb to 3,500 feet and use the SMO VOR to track a radial of 132 (southward) for the special VFR route. The beaches of Santa Monica panned to my right. Lots of people were down in the beaches below. It’s a warm thanksgiving weekend. I too am trying to soak up all the sun, warmth, and life SoCal has to offer before going back to the colder Bay Area.
This particular special VFR route cuts right into the heart of LAX Class B. It takes you directly over LAX itself. My friend and I watched a Boeing 777 land on Runway 25L and another takeoff from 24L.
I’m usually the dork watching airplanes from the ground. To have the chance to watch them takeoff and land from the sky…it’s something else.
That moment of solace was interrupted by an alarm in my head. I remembered to check the quantity of rocket fuel. I glanced at the fuel gauges…yep, still good. Peanut isn’t full but it’s not hungry either.
So far, my friend’s enjoying herself. All the pictures on this post, she took. I just focused on keeping Peanut happy. She even helped me spot other airplanes in the sky. Over Hollywood, we spied something that looked like the XF-11 that Howard Hughes flew many years ago.
I took Peanut past Hawthorne Airport and Zamperini Field. Above the Queen Mary in Long Beach, I banked left to transition across Long Beach Airport’s airspace at 2000 feet and followed the 605 freeway back to El Monte’s airspace for a few circles over Arcadia.
By then, the sun was beginning to set and it was time to return to El Monte Airport. The runway lights were lit when Peanut’s talons became acquainted with Runway 19’s asphalt. I switched out of flight mode and taxied back to Peanut’s nest.
One of my smaller dreams involve sharing my love of flight with friends. The best case scenario would be that my love of flight instills a love of flight of their own. But I’ll be modest here—even if sharing these adventures in the sky brings a smile and a measure of happiness, my job is done and I’m extremely fulfilled and happy myself.
After shutting the aircraft down, I stole a glance at my friend. What’s the verdict? Smile and laughter. Yep, I’m happy.